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Bioinspired protein materials design for optimized mechanical properties


IAP and Spring


1: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Faculty Supervisor:

Markus J. Buehler

Faculty email:


Apply by:



Markus J Buehler: mbuehler@mit.edu

Project Description

Biology has evolved materials with unparalleled mechanical properties including stiffness, toughness, and strength. The Nereis worm jaw is one example of a stiff material found in marine worms, that remarkably yields its strength from no minerals and instead metal-coordinate bonds. In this UROP project, we aim to study under which conditions these metal-coordinate bonds impart such strength. Using computational simulation methods including molecular dynamics, the student will have an opportunity to explore how specific environmental conditions impact biological material strength. This is a good project for students interested in materials science, biology, bioengineering, mechanics, and simulation methods. Through this project, the UROP student will have an opportunity to learn about the intersection of biology and structural materials design, simulation methods, and how to develop independent project ideas.


The most important thing is to be motivated about this project! No other prerequisites, but prior experience with some type of coding language (MATLAB, Python, etc) would be helpful.